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RACP calls for increased access to bariatric surgeries and medicines

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) has urged the Australian Government to increase access to bariatric surgeries to help reduce rates of diabetes and obesity. The College claims that many patients are being forced to wait years to access bariatric surgery and cannot afford to pay through the private system.

“Prevention measures are very important, but attention should also be given to improving access to treatments for people who are living with obesity – these include things like bariatric surgery and effective medicines,” said RACP President, Dr Jacqueline Small. “The Federal Government should also increase the PBS subsidies for obesity and diabetes medicines to ensure that treatment for these often linked conditions isn’t limited by individual affordability.”

“In some cases, we’re even hearing about patients who are emptying their superannuation

funds just so they can get the surgery through the private system. It should not have to come

to this, when we know there are important health consequences if patients can’t access

treatment. The more research we do on obesity, the more we learn about the environmental and

systemic factors that are causing high obesity rates in the population. It’s also clear that

there’s more we could be doing to bring the current rates of obesity down.”

The RACP has made a submission to the Federal Inquiry into Diabetes that calls on the

Government to:

  • Increase funding for bariatric surgeries to support weight management in priority

  • populations with barriers to treatment access and prevent further chronic disease.

  • Subsidised pathways to effective pharmacotherapies should be established so that

  • access is on equitable population health grounds, not individual affordability

  • Early involvement of physicians in team-based care for patients at risk of

  • hospitalisation through use of innovative care pathways

  • Introduce comprehensive national regulations to restrict marketing of unhealthy diets to children

  • Fully fund the effective implementation of the National Preventive Health Strategy

  • Mandate the Health Star Rating System (HSR) for all packaged foods to encourage

  • consumers to choose healthier options and motivate food manufacturers to

  • reformulate and develop healthier products.

  • Implement a tax on sugar-sweetened drinks

“Society has stigmatised obesity as an individual problem for so long, which has led to a lack of responsibility on the part of institutions to create healthy environments and provide accessible care and treatment for people who live with overweight and obesity. While we must work on preventing type 2 diabetes and obesity, there are also effective treatments that can significantly improve health outcomes for patients already affected by these conditions. But they are still out of reach for so many people who can’t afford it.”

“The research shows that asking patients to improve their diet and exercise simply isn’t enough. We need a new model of care for treating patients with obesity, and this includes a balance of prevention measures and accessible, effective treatments. These treatments should be better subsidised by the Government so that people who could greatly benefit from them aren’t left out in the cold.”

To access the RACP’s submission into the Inquiry into Diabetes, please click here


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